Thursday, April 7, 2011

Interview with Author C.J. Lyons

C.J. Lyons, the co-author of the recent bestseller Rock Bottom (along with Erin Brockovich) has graciously agreed to visit Socrates’ Book Review Blog for an interview. So please join me in welcoming C.J. Lyons…

1) How did you come about co-authoring a book with Erin Brockovich? Is there a story behind the story to tell us?

I had just turned in the finale of my Angels of Mercy series (CRITICAL CONDITION) and was wondering what I'd write next when I got a call from Erin's publisher asking if I'd be interested in partnering with her on a new suspense series. It turns out that Erin likes my female protagonists, the way they're strong yet flawed, finding the courage to become their own heroes.

2) I understand you were trained in the medical field, what exactly did you do?

I practiced pediatrics and pediatric emergency medicine for 17 years including working everywhere from inner-city trauma centers, the Navajo reservation, as a Life Flight doctor, and a rural community pediatrics practice where we made house calls.

3) Did your training help you in writing the popular medical series “Angels of Mercy”?

Oh yes! I still had to do research to make sure everything was up to date and all the cases are based on real medicine, but 17 years of observing patients, families, and colleagues really informed my writing. Now, none of the characters are based on real people, but watching how real people react under stress definitely helped me to create believable fictional characters.

4) What do you think about the medical TV shows that are so popular today (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, House, etc.)? Do you watch them? Do you think they are portrayed accurately?

The early years of ER are pretty accurate—at least compared to the others you mention. I can't stand Private Practice or House because both portray not only bad medicine but also people practicing medicine for their own best interests rather than their patients. In the real world, House wouldn't just have lost his license and been sued ages ago, he'd be in prison.

Grey's Anatomy I can enjoy sometimes if I really, really, really suspend disbelief but lately I'm having a hard time with it as well—not only do they get too much of the medicine wrong (something I can forgive if it serves the story) BUT they get the underlying characters so very wrong, making them do crazy things with no motivation that it's actually the writer in me who ends up throwing the remote against the wall rather than the doctor in me, lol!

5) Your bio says you travel extensively. Any favorite places? Do you have any exciting stories about your travels?

I've been so busy lately with book deadlines that I haven't had much time to travel. But in the past I've volunteered on several Earthwatch expeditions including an environmental impact survey of Hells Gate in Africa and an archeological expedition to the Outback of Australia.

Both trips were amazing but one thing that I often mention when I'm giving talks to groups is that the archeological survey discovered cave art that carbon dated back 41,000 years….imagine that, humans telling stories and documenting them 41,000 years ago!!!

6) Are you planning any trips in the future?

I'll be teaching in Pittsburgh at the Pennwriters conference in May and going to NYC for ThrillerFest in July. After that it will depend on my deadlines. But I'm not complaining, it is always, always good to have plenty of work to keep me busy!

7) Do you have any more “Angels of Mercy” books coming out?

CRITICAL CONDITION was the series finale—and it rocked! I can't believe the rave reviews and fan mail I've gotten for it! I loved writing that book, it's basically Die Hard in a hospital, a non-stop thrill ride.

8) Do you outline before writing a book? Do you know exactly how the story will go or are you ever surprised?

I never outline and so am always surprised—but I think that's a good thing for a thriller writer, because if I'm surprised then my readers should be as well, right?

9) Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

The best advice is something you've probably heard before: never surrender, never give up….

10) What upcoming books can we look forward to seeing from you?

HOT WATER, the second in the Erin Brockovich series will be out October, 2011 in hardcover. And this summer I have several e-books and trade paperbacks coming out including the sequel to NERVES OF STEEL, called SLEIGHT OF HAND, and several nonfiction books on the craft of writing, starting with NO RULES, JUST WRITE!

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit with us, C.J.

You are so very welcome! Thanks for having me!

About CJ:

As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge suspense novels. She has assisted police and prosecutors with cases involving child abuse, rape, homicide and Munchausen by Proxy and has worked in numerous trauma centers, as a crisis counselor, victim advocate, as well as a flight physician for Life Flight. CJ credits her patients and their families for teaching her the art of medicine and giving her the courage to pursue her dream of becoming a novelist.

Her first novel, LIFELINES (Berkley, March 2008), received praise as a "breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller" from Publishers Weekly, was reviewed favorably by the Baltimore Sun and Newsday, named a Top Pick by Romantic Times Book Review Magazine, and became a National Bestseller. LIFELINES also won a Readers' Choice Award for Best First Novel.

Her award-winning, critically acclaimed Angels of Mercy series (LIFELINES, WARNING SIGNS, URGENT CARE, and CRITICAL CONDITION) is available now. Her newest project as co-author of a new suspense series with Erin Brockovich, starts with the release of ROCK BOTTOM in March, 2011. To learn more about CJ and her work, go to

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